CAW Study Finds Canadian Auto Assembly Plants Most Productive in North America
January 26, 2009, 7:00 AM EST
A detailed study of productivity levels in the North American auto assembly industry has confirmed that Canadian auto factories are the most efficient in the continent. Moreover, the study shows that unionized auto plants demonstrate higher labour productivity than non-union auto plants.
The study was released on January 26 by the Canadian Auto Workers union and was written by CAW Economist Jim Stanford. Based on the analysis of independent government and industry data (especially statistics published in the annual Harbour Report, the leading survey of auto productivity), the CAW study indicates that average labour productivity is more than 11 per cent higher in Canadian auto assembly plants than in U.S. plants, and about 35 per cent better than in Mexican plants.
The CAW report, "Productivity in the North American Auto Assembly Industry, 1998-2007," also confirms that in both Canada and the U.S., unionized auto assembly facilities are more productive than non-union plants. CAW-represented plants are the most productive, on average, of all plants in North America, followed by non-union plants in Canada, and then by UAW-represented plants in the U.S. Non-union plants in the U.S., and Mexican plants operated by offshore automakers, are the least productive (on average) in the continent. CAW plants are six per cent more productive than non-union Canadian plants, eight per cent more productive than UAW plants, and 24 per cent more productive than non-union transplant operations in the U.S. Of the ten most efficient auto assembly plants in North America, not one is non-union; four are CAW-represented, and six are UAW-represented.
The study's findings are relevant in light of the current cyclical and structural challenges facing the auto industry in North America, and elsewhere. "Canada's productivity advantage in auto assembly is significant and consistent," Stanford said, "and it is a valuable ace in Canada's hand as the continental industry restructures."
CAW President Ken Lewenza pointed out that higher productivity is at least as important as wage levels in determining an industry's competitiveness. "It is no accident that unionized Canadian auto plants are the most efficient on the continent," he said. "It reflects years of effort by our union to keep our facilities modern, efficient, and successful. Our productivity advantage is a reality that must be recognized by both the automakers and governments in the difficult months ahead."
The full study can be downloaded at: http://www.caw.ca/en/5404.htm